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Action on Fistula to Transform 4,500 Lives by 2020

Action on Fistula

Action on Fistula is supported by a grant to the Fistula Foundation By Astellas Pharma Europe Limited



  • Action on Fistula has already treated 2,554 women with obstetric fistula
  • Astellas Pharma supports Fistula Foundation in its second phase of the programme to work towards ending obstetric fistula

Chertsey, England [23 May, 2017] On International Day to End Obstetric Fistula, Astellas Pharma Europe Ltd (“Astellas”) pledges its support to the Fistula Foundation as the second phase of Action on Fistula launches with an ambitious target to treat 4,500 women with obstetric fistula in Kenya by 2020.

Action on Fistula, supported by a grant from Astellas, is a programme set up by the Fistula Foundation in 2014 to transform the lives of more than 1,200 women in Kenya living with fistula: an injury caused by prolonged obstructed labour, leading to faecal or urinary incontinence or both. It most commonly occurs among women who live in rural communities in low-resource countries, who are not aware that help is available or are unable to reach a hospital.

The programme has already:

  • given 2,554 Kenyan women with obstetric fistula life changing reconstructive surgery
  • significantly increased surgical capacity in Kenya to treat the condition by training six fistula surgeons
  • set up a fistula treatment network to extend access to services, with six treatment centres enrolled and providing fistula surgeries on a routine basis
  • built a major outreach programme to identify and bring women in for treatment

From May 2017 – April 2020 Action on Fistula will:

  • provide surgeries to an additional 2,000 women with fistula and continue to build capacity in Kenya to deliver ongoing treatment
  • extend its treatment network to up to eight treatment centres
  • train a further six surgeons at the Gynocare Women’s and Fistula Hospital in Kenya, including clinicians from outside the country to build capacity across sub-Saharan Africa and South-East Asia
  • train 10 fistula nurses to support women through their treatment journey
  • establish 20 support groups throughout Kenya to provide recovering fistula patients with psychosocial assistance, economic empowerment and income-generating activities

Kate Grant, CEO, Fistula Foundation, comments,Our partnership with Astellas has enabled us to transform the treatment landscape in Kenya, from hospitals that worked largely in a vacuum, to a country-wide network of six facilities offering regular fistula treatment. The results have been incredible, enabling us to treat more than double the number of women we initially set out to help.”

Yukio Matsui, President of Astellas Pharma Europe Limited, said,We are enormously proud of what the programme has achieved in such a small space of time. Through the commitment and skill of Fistula Foundation working to train surgeons and mobilise outreach teams on the ground in Kenya, Action on Fistula has transformed the lives of more than double the number of women it set out to. This is truly remarkable.

“Over the next three years we have set ourselves an ambitious goal of treating many more women with this devastating condition and building an even stronger treatment infrastructure in Kenya so the legacy of Action on Fistula lasts for many years to come.”

Whilst virtually eradicated in developed countries, the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) estimates 3,000 new cases of obstetric fistula occur annually in Kenya, with approximately one to two fistulas for every 1,000 deliveries.[1]

Women with fistula are often subject to severe social stigma due to odour, which is constant and humiliating, and in many cases drives the patients’ family, friends and neighbours away. Stigmatised, these women are also often denied access to education and employment and left to live lives of isolation and poverty.

Action on Fistula was recognised at the 2017 Better Society Awards for its work with Fistula Foundation in the ‘Partnership with an International Charity’ category and the 2017 Communiqué Awards for the ‘Excellence in Corporate Social Responsibility’ category.

Astellas is committed to the long-term sustainability of society by improving Access to Health and medical solutions, fostering scientific advancement and enhancing the health of our communities. Action on Fistula is a flagship programme of Access Accelerated, a multi-stakeholder collaboration focused on improving non-communicable disease care supported by Astellas Pharma Inc.

For more information about the programme visit

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Notes to Editors

About Astellas Pharma Europe Ltd
Astellas Pharma Europe Ltd operates in 40 countries across Europe, the Middle East and Africa, and is the EMEA regional business of Tokyo‐based Astellas Pharma Inc. Astellas is a pharmaceutical company dedicated to improving the health of people around the world through the provision of innovative and reliable pharmaceuticals. The organisation’s focus is to deliver outstanding R&D and marketing to continue growing in the world pharmaceutical market. Astellas’ presence in Europe also includes an R&D site and three manufacturing plants. The company employs over 4,500 people across the EMEA region. In 2013 Astellas was awarded SCRIP Pharmaceutical Company of the Year in recognition of its commercial success and pipeline development.

About Fistula Foundation
Fistula Foundation is dedicated to treating obstetric fistula, because no woman should suffer a life of isolation and misery simply for trying to bring a child into the world. We fund local partners who deliver life-changing fistula treatment in more than 20 countries – supporting more fistula repair surgeries worldwide than any other non‐profit organisation not receiving government funding. Based in San Jose, California, in the heart of Silicon Valley, Fistula Foundation is honoured to have received eleven consecutive 4‐Star ratings from Charity Navigator; only one percent of charities have received this designation.

About Action on Fistula
Action on Fistula, supported by a grant from Astellas, is a programme set up by the Fistula Foundation in 2014 to transform the lives of more than 1,200 women in Kenya living with fistula. By the end of the FY2016, the programme had already given 2,471 Kenyan women with obstetric fistula life-changing reconstructive surgery, far exceeding the initial goal of improving the lives of more than 1,200 women with obstetric fistula.  The target for the next three years is set at treating 4,500 women in conjunction with significantly increasing surgical capacity in Kenya. The programme also raises awareness of the condition and supports initiatives that destigmatise fistula and empower other women to step forward for treatment, supporting fistula survivors to return to their community. The Fistula Treatment Network will extend access to services at centres enrolled, providing fistula surgeries on a routine basis.

To ensure women living with fistula in rural communities can be identified and helped, Action on Fistula is also running a major outreach programme, and training community workers to identify and encourage patients to access treatment.

Alongside funding Action on Fistula, Astellas is actively encouraging and enabling employees to fundraise to support fistula treatment.

More information about the programme is available at

About Access Accelerated
Astellas’ support of Action on Fistula is part of the company’s commitment to Access Accelerated, designed to address the full spectrum of access barriers to medicines for non-communicable diseases (NCDs) in low-income and lower-middle income countries.  Involving more than 20 biopharmaceutical companies and associations, Access Accelerated also includes partners such as the World Bank and the Union of International Cancer Control, all working towards the UN Sustainable Development Goal target to reduce premature deaths from NCDs by 2030.

[1] United Nations Population Fund, Direct Relief and Fistula Foundation Global Treatment Map at